Hey, Parents! We're Sabotaging Our Teen Drivers

As parents, we often subscribe to a “do as I say, not as I do” mentality. This is dangerously apparent with our teen drivers, and studies have shown that parents are unknowingly sabotaging their teen drivers by demonstrating that mentality. Because it’s National Teen Driver Safety Week, let’s take a look at the common mistakes parents make that may be hurting their teen drivers.

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Don’t Text and Drive (But I Can): We beat teens over the head with the “never text and drive” message, yet they see us do it on a regular basis. According to a 2012 study by Liberty Mutual Insurance and Students Against Destructive Decisions, 91 percent of teens reported seeing their parents talk on cellphones while driving, and 59 percent witnessed their parents sending a text while driving.

Monkey see, monkey do. Teens mirror the behaviors they see: 90 percent of teens say they’ve talked on cellphones while driving, and 78 percent admitted to sending text messages while driving.

Never Drink and Drive (But I Can): Again, teens are bombarded with this message. However, parents often take the family out to dinner at a restaurant or a friend’s house, have a cocktail or two or three, then get back in the car with the kids in tow to drive home. Twenty percent of teens have seen their parents drive while under the influence, and subsequently 15 percent admit to doing the same.

Wear Your Seat Belt (But I Don’t Have To): 47 percent of teenagers have witnessed their parents driving without their seat belts on, and – mirror, mirror, on the wall — 33 percent of teens say they’ve driven without their seat belt on.

Never Pick Up the Phone While Driving (Unless I’m Calling You): Parents tell teens to never pick up their cellphone while driving, but many moms and dads expect their teens to answer it when they call … even if they’re driving.

“Teens said parents expect to be able to reach them, that parents get mad if they don’t answer their phone,” Noelle LaVoie told Today.com in an interview. LaVoie is the co-author of a recent American Psychological Association study on teen cellphone use behind the wheel.

If we really want to teach our children to be responsible, we need to look at how we may be sabotaging our teen drivers and make the necessary sacrifices and lifestyle changes to lead by example. The safety of our teen drivers (and everyone else on the road) depends upon it.